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3 reasons why you’re motivated

22 June, 2021

Why is motivation so hard? 

It’s all to do with your mindset when you need to do a task. How you think about it has a lot to do with how you complete it – or not! 

It’s true, what you think about you bring about!

Psychologists have identified three elements that support motivation, all of which you can tweak to your benefit. I will share the mindset shifts alongside the practical steps you can take to keep motivated towards your goals. 

#1: Autonomy

The more ownership and control over your decisions and actions, the more you feel aligned to do it.  

Your motivation to do something increases when you feel in charge of the decision to do it. When the decision has is taken out of your control, and you have to do it, resistance kicks in, and the motivation to take action disappears. 

The feeling of being ‘forced’ or ‘having to do’ tasks completely sucks the motivation right out of you, and this can even happen with things we enjoy doing. 

Think about a time in your life that has happened and consider the shift in attitude and behaviour you experienced because of feeling ‘forced’ to do something. 

  • Enjoy eating healthily, but as soon as you go on a ‘diet,’ it becomes a challenge?
  • Love to run, but as soon as you sign up for a race, it feels harder to go out and train?
  • Enjoy your work and don’t mind working late, until there isn’t the choice to go home at your usual time?
  • Want to spend time with your friends, but the pressure to go to a birthday dinner on a weekday you instantly regret agreeing to go? 

To recharge your motivation, here is a mindset shift you can instantly start to apply: 

Instead of saying to yourself, “I have to,” reframe it to “I choose to” or “I get to.” 

Changing how you think about a task will help reduce the resistance towards the task at hand and help you take action (rather than avoiding it). You are in a fortunate position where you don’t have to do anything – not really. You have a choice in every decision you make. You may not want to do something (eat a salad for lunch, go for a run at 4 am, work late, go to dinner on a weeknight) but you choose to do it because you enjoy the benefits and the positive rewards of doing these things have on your life. 

Reframe in action: 

  • I choose to eat healthier today because I know it will make me feel better. 
  • I get to go for a run this morning and prep for my race. 
  • I choose to work late this evening because it will increase my team’s overall performance.
  • I get to go for dinner with friends tonight. How lucky am I! 

List the things you’re feeling resistant towards doing in your day-to-day life and answer these BIG 3 QUESTIONS:  

  1. What’s the impact for you if you do this? 
  2. What’s the impact if you don’t do this? 
  3. I choose, or I get to do these activities because…

Create a reframe for each of them, and then say them aloud to recharge your motivation towards doing them. 

#2: Values

Our motivation thrives when we stay true to our values and beliefs. 

Therefore, it’s essential to notice any resistance when you don’t feel right about doing something and ask yourself, “Is this aligned with my values and beliefs?” If it isn’t, and there is an option to change what you’re doing, change and move onto doing something you value – this will instantly increase your motivation. 

However, for most work-related tasks, we don’t have the option to make such changes. A prime example is being asked or expected to work overtime. You value time with your family more than the business you’re in. Motivation to stay and do the overtime will be minimal, resulting in a negative attitude and trigger unhealthy habits. 

Therefore learning how to keep perspective and remain motivated is a skill you can learn to keep going, even when you don’t want to. 

Start by addressing the mindset you have towards the activity and ask yourself, “what can I do to take back control in this situation and live more aligned with my values?” 

If the issue is time-related, how can you take back that time? 

Another option is to find a way to add value to the task; working overtime now means you can relax on the weekend or add an extra day onto your summer holiday as an example. 

Cultivating meaning towards an activity or task will make you more invested in it, increasing your motivation to do it. 

Living aligned with your values in action: 

Learn how to plan your day or week ahead of time; it might seem simple to create a schedule but overlooked for many. Often we falsely believe actions and tasks will just ‘fit into the day, or we think willpower is strong enough, so there’s no need to plan. However, impact planning ahead of time means you are setting yourself for success, living aligned with your values, controlling your time, boundaries, and the accountability to take action. 

Consider this scenario; 

An early work meeting is happening during a time you would typically exercise. Instead of allowing the situation to control you and how you behave that day (most likely demotivated), consider how you can take back control?  

How can you add value to this meeting? 

How can you add value to this change in routine? 

How can you adapt your day to fit in your exercise? 

“By planning, you are taking control of the controllable and setting yourself up to succeed.”

#3: Competence

Carol S. Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University, has shown that competence comes from recognizing the basis of accomplishment. In numerous studies, she has found that those who credit innate talents rather than hard work give up more easily when facing a novel challenge because they assume it exceeds their ability. Believing that effort fosters excellence can inspire you to keep learning.

Therefore to be motivated, we need to adopt a growth mindset and focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t. 

Consider the things you lack motivation in because you’re just not very good at it or don’t know how to do it. 

  • Want to cook healthy homemade meals but don’t have the skill set in the kitchen? 
  • Would you love to run 5km but don’t know how to get your body to run that distance? 
  • Want to advance your career but don’t get passed on for promotion and haven’t got a clue what to do about it? 

To make a change, you need to believe that you can do it and then put effort into making that change. Adopting a growth mindset will help you approach challenges, setbacks, and critical feedback positivity and prompt more action through learning rather than quitting or not starting because of failing or not being very good at doing something. 

A growth mindset in action: 

Ask for help and support from experts and the people you trust. 

List what you need to help you develop the skill to achieve what you’ve set out to do, who, and what will help you learn and grow during the process to help keep motivation high. 

Consider what it is you need to practice, where you can spend your energy and put in the effort: 

  • Do you need to take a course? 
  • Break your action steps into micro action steps?
  • Hire a coach or mentor?
  • Join a workshop or class? 
  • Read a book or study a subject? 

The more competent you become, the more motivated you will be to keep going. Competence comes from taking action – just like motivation. You don’t wake up feeling motivated; it’s the action you take that sparks the motivation and momentum to keep going. 

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